Former oil & gas worker strikes it rich with shaved ice

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RICHMOND, TX-- In today's world, it's easy to get wrapped up chasing mo' money,  mo' money,  mo' money. But as Alexx Nanez discovered, there's something more important than that. "I realized that time was real precious, that my kids were getting older," the Richmond man explains. "And right before they actually go off to college, I wanted to spend some quality time."

So Nanez quit his high-paying job in facility maintenance at Baker Hughes to open a snow cone business. Actually, it's a shaved ice business. And it harkens back to when he was eight years old and his parents bought him and his siblings a hand ice shaver they used to make snowcones for the neighborhood kids.

"They would line up early in the morning during the summer and spring break," Nanez explains, "and that's how we made our money to go out to the movies."

He had always wanted to come back and visit that part of his life, but it probably would have never happened if it hadn't been for his wife Rhonda. "I believe in dreams. I believe in going for what you want," the auburn-haired woman explains, "and I believed if anybody could do it, he can."

And he's done it! In a year, the business Alexx calls "Just Chill Out" has grown from one ice trailer to a fleet of five working nearly every weekend. "Business is really good," says Alexx, "and especially with the Texas weather that we have down here, we work 11 months of the year." He has recruited his son and daughters to help out, too, so even though he stays busy, he gets to be with his kids much more.

The Nanezes also make time to give back to the Richmond community where Alexx grew up by donating their services to  groups like the Friends of North Richmond that offers adult education, afterschool programs and home repair to families struggling against poverty . "The environment around here is very important to us because this is what made the dream. This is what established us," Rhonda explains.

"We've gotten a lot of messages," Alexx says, "of people encouraging us to keep going and really live that dream." And they hope their success inspires others to follow their own dreams.

"We wanna be that encouragement, that light for somebody," Rhonda says. "'If they can do it, we can do it.' That kind of thing."

For more on how the Nanez family making their dreams come true, check out this month's Houstonia.

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